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Here In Oakland

Art & Life

Today at the pump


Under here.

July 31, 2010

Whipping Right By
Saturday. Took a while to get to sleep last night so I'm not sure how much sleep I've actually gotten. Feel pretty good, though, up at six, to breakfast at six-thirty, back now before eight having filled the car with gas and thoroughly cleaned the windshield. Saves me from having it washed over in Berkeley. You know you're getting old when you don't wash your own car anymore. But I'm not complaining.

A first, of sorts: Thursday evening when I was heading home after listening to the blues band playing in front of City Hall, a woman in her thirties or forties approached me asking for money, repeatedly addressing me as “grandfather”, running on at about a hundred miles an hour. I'm not sure how successful that approach is with most people; “grandfather” and all. Still, it worked, I gave her money. Didn't think about it really. Guys on the street, well, you trust your gut to determine if you're going to come up with a few bucks. For the few women who ask I mostly comply unless they're snarling.

A product of being in a “grandfather's” cohort at the end of the 21st Century's first decade?. I'm not quite sure how the attitudes toward women have changed, how far they've progressed and how they might differentiate panhandling between men and women. Still. “Grandfather.” I'm old enough to be a great grandfather, actually, but no need to necessarily mention it on the street. Right, grandfather?

Later. FedEx delivered a guitar amplifier this morning, Amazon charging me all of $3.99 for next day delivery service. A fifty pound amplifier next day for four dollars. I'm becoming much too good a customer.

Still, it allowed me to get out for a walk down the way through the Grand Lake Farmer's Market and take one or two pictures. Not seeing much as I was walking, the brain a bit fuzzy, passing one lone man stumping for Israel in front of the theater. Lonely duty these days. A walk farther down to have a cup of coffee at a donut shop.

I'd rather have had one out in front of Starbucks or Noah's, but all their tables were filled. It was a Saturday morning, late, and the streets around the market are usually pretty crowded. I sat for a short while to sit on a bench near the white columns by the lake, took one not very good picture, although I seem to be putting together a series of these pictures, the image of a single person alone on the lawn doing something or other in the distance, all of them sharing a quality of some kind I'm obviously liking or else I wouldn't be taking them. Still, sloppy shooting.

Good shooting isn't all that hard if you take your time. Maybe that's why I'm a street shooter: shoot and scoot, no time for composition or thought. Shoot within the second or the picture is gone. That's both true and not true, of course. There are many ways to approach a potential shot if you're thinking.

Back home I downloaded a copy of Layla in a form that displays a guitar graphic on the computer as the song is playing and shows you the fingering so you can go back and forth a note at a time and figure out (even as a rank beginner) how to play it. I've been running through the first bars of the Layla intro now for a couple of hours. Takes time to get it right, it does, a lot more time than a couple of hours. At my skill level, anyway. Still, I can play those first four sets of seven notes now and it makes me strangely happy. Happy is happy. Strangely happy counts just as well as any other kind of happy unless you're getting off on serial killing or child molestation or something similar. My guess, anyway.

This box they delivered is an amplifier, yes, but it's mostly a device that contains a large number of rhythm tracks of popular songs that you can play along with and, if you like, make recordings; the device having microphone inputs, iPod outputs and all kinds of other inputs and outputs, special effects and such. I read through the customer comments on Amazon before I bought it and they were pretty damned positive, suggesting it was end of the rainbow stuff, even for beginners.

You're spending more money?

There's a kind of kamikaze aspect to getting this guitar, getting together all of the peripherals you need to go with it. A cleaning, polishing, maintenance kit. A set of guitar tools. A couple of books, one on maintaining Fender guitars (it has a section on my model as well as all the other Fenders since the 50's), another celebrating Fender's fiftieth anniversary with many stories about musicians I'm familiar with.

Odd how little I've thought about guitars in my life and now I'm consuming this stuff like some kind of vacuum cleaner. I'll look at the credit card statement when it comes next month, swallow and make the payment.

It's now five in the afternoon, the finger tips hurt (is it the new guitar strings or the longer practice sessions?) and I'm thinking of picking the thing up again in a minute and continue playing. A good day, I'd say, pretty much whipping right by. Here in Oakland.

The photograph was taken near the corner of Lake Park and Lakeshore Avenues in Oakland with a Nikon D3s mounted with a 105mm f 2.8 Nikkor Micro VR lens.